I had seen parts of a movie and heard about a band of zealots who had resisted the Roman empire and had committed suicide rather than submit to Roman rule and thought that it would be cool to see the site of such idealism. Coupled with the chance to swim in the Dead Sea, it represented a great day trip from Jerusalem. Prices have risen in 18 months though: what was £58 is now £86!
It is possible to find tours which will get you to the base of Masada in time for you to trek up the path to the top in time for sunrise and looking back on it now, it might have been a nice addition to the experience. I opted for the slightly more civilised starting time and did the non-Dawn tour.
The biggest two warnings I can give you about Masada are:
- Watch your feet – the ground up there is not level and I saw one fellow tourist take a tumble and graze their leg quite badly. This isn’t just generally looking out for your fellow traveller – this is vital for the enjoyment of the day, as you will see a little later in this blog post.
- You are very exposed, there is no shelter out on the tableau and the sun is very hot. Sunscreen and a hat would be a good idea. Again, not just a general health tip, but very specific to this trip.
We had a good amount of time to explore the tableau – it’s a good size and the views are simply stunning.
Cable Car mechanism
A model of the palace at the end of the tableau
This shot gives you an idea of the extent of the ruins
A bit of blessed shade – relief from the sun at last!
There is a gift shop and food hall at the base of cable car – a good place to meet up in case your tour group is split over multiple cable car journeys as ours was – despite the heat, Masada is very popular and so there’s a steady supply of tourists.
After a quick bite we head to Ein Gedi. Enroute we’re briefed about what to expect and what not to do:
- A human body in water will naturally come to float in a face down position, unless you ensure that you are floating on your back. With the huge salt content in the Dead Sea, your body is much more buoyant and so you have to make sure that you stay on your back. Why?
- Because salt stings. It really really stings. Grazes that you got three days ago will feel like someone is cutting you with a knife. If you got any sort of sunburn or windburn from the top of Masada you will now know exactly where it is on your body and exactly how big it is. I thought I was totally fine but I soon learned that I had a couple of patches of sunburn and a graze that I didn’t even remember getting. And I was made acutely aware of it.
- Do not put your head under the water! We were told this and that we had to concentrate on making sure we floated on our backs. Lo and behold one of our number tipped forward and went under and then spent ten minutes in agony until we could walk him to the beach so he could wash out his eyes.
The spa is set up quite well, there are multiple swimming pools and health treatments, and of course you can buy any number of products for use at home…
So was it worth it?
Yes, I would say so. The guide was good, the experience of Masada was brilliant and there was something out of this world about the Dead Sea. There is a forced comfort/buying stop on the way to Masada that we could have done without, but that didn’t lose us any time really – we had ample time at both Masada and Ein Gedi.